Or – “Timing Is Everything…”
Is the new superhero Jackpot really the long-lost Mary Jane Watson?
Well, no.Â No, she isn’t.Â And it’s been over a year since we saw her last.Â Will that affect how well the book works?
Amazing Spider-Man Presents Jackpot #1
COVER BY: David Yardin
WRITER: Marc Guggenheim
PENCILS: Adriana Melo
Previously, on Amazing Spider-Man Presents Jackpot: After a chaotic series of events caused Peter Parker to sell his wife to the devil in order to give his octogenarian mother-figure another twenty minutes of life, (and I thought *I* had Mommy issues) his wedding to the vivacious redhead Mary Jane Watson was retroactively removed from the continuity, and Spider-Man embarked upon a Brand New Day, metaphorically speaking.Â Of course, nothing is every without controversy in the life of Spider-Man (at least not while the current EIC is runnin’ th’ show) andÂ it soon came to pass thatÂ a beautiful costumed redhead who seemed to be a model in her real life started swanning around the rooftops of New York City, and basically bugging Spidey to death.Â (Y’know, for a guy who started fighting super-villains when he was 15, Spider-Man is remarkably elitist about the whole masked vigilante gig…Â You’d think that he’d have a little more open attitude about grown-ups fighting crime.)Â When her identity was made public, it turned out that Jackpot was aÂ drug-user who BOUGHT a superhero license andÂ she was soon after killedÂ in the line of duty.Â No lie, folks. But the girl that she bought her identity from still has powers, and after hearing that great power leads to great something-or-other, it seems that she might have some residual guilt to work off…
When last we saw Sara Ehret (a name that I swear to you is an anagram for something…Â Earth Ares?) she had been verbally assaulted by a thirty-year-old man who still lived with his auntie and worked part-time for a newspaper so he could fight crime.Â (I’ll stop being a jackass about Spidey in a minute, folks, I just have some agression built up after this week…)Â We open this issue with Jackpot in action, kicking a villain in the face, looking every bit the hero role.Â The first problem that I have with this series is the alteration of the striking green/white/gold ensemble that the other Jackpot wore, with the little bolero jacket, the huge bell-bottoms and the adorable choker has been traded in for a standard issue red/black hero suit.Â The costume has added inexplicable belts across the thighs, the ribcage, wrists and calves, and has some lace-up gauntlets that feel really familiar.Â It’s not even distinctive, with the exception of keeping the “777” logo belt that was so clever in it’s evocation of a slot machine.Â We’re treated to several pages ofÂ some serious recap, reprinting most of the confrontation from Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1, the isssue in which Jackpot I died, and explaining what happened behind the scenes.Â We then meet Sara Ehret (Hares Rate?)’s husband and daughter, which, honestly tells me that she has a good reason to not want to be a hero, and Sara does some serious deep thinking about what it is that she has created.
Sara Ehret (Rates Her ‘A’?) goes into action that night and meets up with old-school Hulk/Spidey villain Boomerang, who has likewise undergone a costume transition to something awful, a completely featureless purple unitard with one white boomerang on the chest, and now seems toÂ have the power toÂ fire little boomerangs from a couple of misshapen BIG boomerangs.Â The art in his first appearance is very, very odd, with top-heavy anatomy and some bizarre musculature.Â Sara nearly gets her throat slit, but manges to pull out a win by shooting him with her grappling hook and fleeing the scene with all due haste.Â Given Boomerang’s unsavory intentions to rape her to death (and yes, he clearly makes this intention known on-panel) I don’t blame her, but Sara Ehret (Heart Sear?) is undaunted.Â She heads home, and then the story gets a little weird for me.Â Having nearly been sexually assaulted by a villain and his henchmen, she proceeds to seduce her husband, even joking about keeping the costume on.Â It’s a very odd placement of whatÂ otherwise would Â have been a very cute scene.Â Putting on a pashmina to cover her slashed throat,Â Sarah Ehret (Here As Art?) takes some ofÂ the stuffÂ that Boomerang was trying to steal, only to find that it’s a sweat gland.Â We are suddenly treated to the flashback origin of Jackpot:Â Â Sara works in some sort of laboratory and accidentally injected herself with a virus designed to rewrite human genetic code and suddenlyÂ was powerful enough toÂ throw a boat right over a hedge.Â Jackpot seeks out a reason why a villain would want sweat glands, while Boomerang is revealed to be working for one of the city’s myriad, one who has takenÂ the name of an old one:Â The Rose.
There are a number of issues with this comic, not the least of which come with the art.Â Boomerang is comically cross-eyed in a panel where he was ostensibly meant to be threatening, and the New Rose has fists like country hams while standing four feet high and measuring about four feet wide.Â At it’s best, the art resembles Todd Nauck, at it’s worst, I’m reminded of early 90’s Image Comics, books that were high on enthusiasm but low on craft.Â Moroever, the timing of this issue couldn’t be worse, as most of the plotlines from the ‘Brand New Day’ arc of Spider-Man have been wiped clean as that book moves into it’s new phase.Â The mystery of whether Jackpot is Mary Jane has been answered with a resounding “Nope,” and a lot of the appeal of the character was in the ‘Was She or Wasn’t She?’ question.Â And while the story of Sara Ehret (Rear Haste?) is an interesting one, she was clearly NOT interested in being a superhero in her previous appearance, and it’s hard to believe her change of heart here.Â Hopefully the coming issues will go more in-depth into her thought processes…Â Â Worst of all is the revelation that she left FINGERPRINTS on the weapon that impaled Boomerang and that The Rose can now come after her husband and daughter.Â This is a dramatic moment, sure, but it’s one that makes her seem at best unprepared and at worst, kind of an idiot.Â Her new costume isn’t just blah, it now makes her resemble The Huntress sans cape, and Boomerang’s character redesign is just awful.Â There’s a lot of energy in the book that I want to like, but the execution just isn’t there.Â Given that Jackpot The First used MGH (Mutant Growth Hormone, an illicit substance)Â to get her powers, I have a sneaking suspicion that the sweat glands are about some sort of new drug angle or genetic engineering plot, but the “I died because I used drugs, learn from my errors” portion of the Jackpot story is the least interesting part of a character that seemed to have real potential.Â Â This issue has two fatal flaws for me, in that the main character doesn’t seem emotionally or intellectually up to the task before her, and everything that was distinct about Jackpot in her previous appearances has been wiped away.Â Factor in some less-than-stellar art, and Amazing Spider-Man Presents Jackpot #1 earns aÂ disappointing 1 out of 5 stars overall.Â It’s a valiant effort, though, and I amÂ quite happyÂ to see Marvel taking a shot on a nearly unknown character like this…